So You Want to be a Board Member? What's Involved, and What It Means

"I wish someone had told me the nuances of trying to cultivate a community while also trying to manage a business,” said Pat Burke, the current president of the Fieldstondale co-op in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, when asked what he wished someone had told him when he joined his co-op board 12 years ago. “The two tasks are usually in dire conflict, or so I’ve found.”

Time is Not on Your Side

Being on your building’s board can be a time-consuming job, says Jared McNabb, CMCA, PCAM, a property manager and vice president of acquisitions with Crowninshield Management Corp., AMO, a property management firm in Peabody, Massachusetts “People are working more hours. Many times boards meet in the evening hours, beyond 5 o’clock, and at that point a lot of folks are home from work and may not have the time or desire to do anything but come home and relax or take care of their own errands.”

While being on the board can take up quite a bit of time, you don’t necessarily need to be an expert on the nuances of property management or administration, says Mary Ann Rothman, the executive director of the Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums (CNYC), “You just need to be willing to give the time and attention. No particular expertise is required, but it does make sense to read the proprietary lease, the bylaws and house rules of your co-op or condo and note any questions you have and ask those questions before joining.”

Though Keith Hales, the president of Hales Property Management in Chicago notes, “A board member should be familiar with how condominium associations operate as well as generally how a business operates.” He adds that reviewing the condo act or your local condo or co-op laws, the condo declaration, bylaws, and any rules and regulations of the particular building community are also beneficial.  

Act Responsibly

“The biggest requirement to us is that they must act in the best interest of the condo association,” says Hales. “Other attributes of a good board member include responsiveness, have a hands-on approach, attention to detail, reasonable expectations, and ultimately understands their responsibility.”

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2 Comments

  • Joseph S Desrosiers on Sunday, August 28, 2016 9:22 PM
    I reside in a coop where our former board member took insurance, to cover their irresponsible behavior of fraud and abuses by a then member of the board. Insurance coverage is abused because insurance company don't investigate any matter fully; unless you are talking about million dollar fraud. If other members are ignorant of the fact how can they make proper decisions to protect the investor in the cooperative in which they live. Mary-Ann has been very resourceful to New- Yorker over the years even though her resources are limited to a point. When coop lawyer who must uphold the law to protect a corporation with many ignorant member serving without knowing why they are a board member in the first place is totally ridiculous and the Court always side with the lawyer with half the truth. Lawyers get paid as if they are on our coop payroll as employee.it's all about the money.A non shareholder in my coop collected 279 thousand dollars from our insurance under a deal with the management company and the coop former super without the coop board being notified. Insurance for what when they are in bed with fraudster.
  • "be careful of those running for the board that might be renting out their unit as they might have a different agenda than someone who currently lives in the building.” Well, if the majority of the shareholders are investors and they don't want to pay for anything, then you get an investor's board. We got an unemployed flipper who lives in an empty studio apartment who needs to sell to anyone with the cash to pay him, and we have an investor who agreed not to sub-let and went ahead to sub-let, as the board.